There has been lots of debate surrounding proposed changes to Canada’s sportsbetting laws, with professional opinion in favour of legalizing single game bets. Casinos, law enforcement, and problem gambling councilors have all expressed support for Bill C-290 to Canada’s Senate – and public opinion is finally weighing in. Despite the outspoken opposition to the changes from North America’s major sports leagues, the majority of Canadians believe single game bets should be legalized.
The single game sportsbetting bill was first introduced to Canada’s House of Commons in September, 2011 which was passed with unanimous support by Canada’s MPs earlier this year. After clearing the lower house, the bill was sent to Canada’s Senate – the so-called ‘chamber of sober second thought’ – where it was initially expected to pass. However, with North America’s major sports leagues expressing extreme opposition to the bill, a majority of Senators have switched their stance with the intention of now defeating it. If the bill is defeated, it would be the first time in Canadian history that the unelected Senate defeated a motion that was unanimously supported by Canada’s elected House of Commons.
The bill’s defeat would also be a slap in the face to the 64 percent of Canadian citizens who in a new Ipsos Reid poll, said they support the amendment to sportsbetting laws. Canada’s five most western provinces have written letters of support to the Federal Justice Minister, with Quebec, PEI, and New Brunswick also onside with the changes. Clearly, Canadians see the merit in single game bets and want the law to include these types of wagers.
Sportsbetting has been legal in Canada for decades, but it has required a minimum of three wagers to be considered legal. However, Canadians have had access to single game bets through online sportsbetting sites operating outside Canadian borders, meaning those wagers aren’t reinvested in the Canadian economy. Bill Rutsey, President of the Canadian Gaming Association who supports the bill, described the outdated legal framework in an appearance at the Senate last month.
“Right now, over $10 billion or more is being wagered through illegal sports betting every year in Canada, and a further $4 billion is wagered online through illegal offshore betting websites. We need to bring more regulation and enforcement to this otherwise overlooked problem, and that begins with the passage of Bill C-290.”
If Canada’s chamber of sober second thought exists to consider the opinions of Canadian citizens, it should remember this new information and allow the bill to pass into sportsbetting law.
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